The Asahi Shimbun and the Cabinet Office are telling a starkly different story about the removal of a link from a government website to a report detailing the 1923 massacre of Koreans in Japan.
The Asahi reported on Wednesday that the government removed the link to the report, which contains a passage explaining the 1923 massacre, after receiving a barrage of complaints.
The Asahi report was based on comments from an unnamed Cabinet Office official.
The Cabinet Office, however, claimed on Wednesday that nobody from its staff gave the comments quoted by the Asahi.
Setsuko Saya, a senior official at the Cabinet Office, told reporters that a link to the report was deleted because the website is under renovation, and that it will soon be re-posted.
The report was written in 2009 by a panel of experts, with a goal of drawing lessons from the Great Kanto Earthquake. The disaster devastated Tokyo and Yokohama and killed more than 100,000 people on Sept. 1, 1923.
Historians say the massacre happened because many Japanese people believed false rumors that Koreans had planned a riot and poured poison into wells after the quake.
But now on Twitter, some Japanese people — though they seem to be a small minority — have claimed that the massacre never happened. Others have defended the killings, claiming that Koreans really did stage a riot after the quake.
In the article, the Asahi quoted the unnamed official as saying that the government decided to remove the link because it received numerous complaints about its content.
“Many people criticized the content. We have decided not to carry it, also because it has been on (the website) for seven years,” the official was quoted by the Asahi as saying.
The newspaper said the panel concluded that “massacre” was the right word to describe the incident, as this had been widely accepted by Japanese historians for years.
Also Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government had no issue with the content of the 1923 massacre report, and that it would re-post the link on its website as soon as the renovation was finished.
Asked if the government would lodge a protest against the Asahi, Suga said only: “We refrain from giving a comment to every single individual news report.”
The Asahi told The Japan Times the story was produced through an interview with the unnamed official, adding that it would not disclose further details about exchanges.